Leggings vs Pantyhose (Compare & Contrast)

Let us take a closer look at Leggings and Pantyhose to find out which is the perfect fit for your needs and fashion style with a few details on tights and stockings.

This is a pair of legs wearing pantyhose hanging out the driver's window.

The war rages on. Men and women everywhere battle it out as we try to understand the difference between these seemingly similar pieces of clothing. Leggings vs. pantyhose. What is it about these garments that gets people’s knickers in a knot? 

We did some digging and found some surprising answers for you.

Leggings are considered outer garments. They are not footed and begin at the ankle or higher and end at the waist. Pantyhose are considered undergarments. They are usually footed and end at the waist. Both can be bought in several colors and with varied designs.

If you have found yourself staring in wonder as someone confidently flitted past you wearing nothing but their pantyhose or tights, the dawn of an uneasy truth has begun in you. While it may be easy to class outer ware as not transparent clothes and under ware as clothes that are, the debate does, unfortunately, go deeper.

There are some solid facts around the difference between leggings and pantyhose, though, so let’s have a look at those, and you can decide for yourself.

Table of Contents

What Are Leggings?

These are women wearing colorful leggings.

Leggings became the chosen item of women all over the world during the Year-That-Shall-Not-Be-Named (2020). 

When the need for comfort was at an all-time high, and we stayed at home most of the time, our trusted leggings were our staple attire.  

Leggings are made from stretchy fabric and are usually tight-fitting. They don’t have feet attached to them and so are un-footed. They may go as low as the ankle or lower calf and stretch up to the waist. You can find them in plenty of colors, styles, and patterns to suit your taste. 

They are rarely transparent, and you cannot see the gusset or top joins from the outside.  

Leggings have also been dubbed “Yoga pants,” but this is not technically correct. Yoga pants traditionally have a slightly different cut to typical leggings. Still, we feel the two are so similar that they can be used interchangeably without too much emphasis on the correct terminology.

What Are Pantyhose?

These are women's legs wearing various pantyhose.

Pantyhose are considered under ware or hosiery. They are made from extremely thin fabric, usually nylon, and are sheer. They are much thinner than their cousins: tights and stockings. Pantyhose are footed and so will cover the feet and stretch up to the waist.  

You may see a darker band on the upper thigh section of pantyhose. This is where the knitting machine has been changed to complete the upper or panty section of the pantyhose. The upper section is a little more stretchy than the leg section, allowing the pantyhose to stretch over a woman’s curves.

The panty section is also usually a little more opaque (less transparent) than the leg section. 

The line on the thigh part is also called a “run-stop band”. 

The idea is that it will stop runs in their tracks; however, if you’ve ever experienced a snag on a pair of pantyhose, you will know that this very rarely actually works.

What’s the Difference Between Pantyhose, Tights, and Stockings?

Pantyhose, tights, and stockings are so similar you may be forgiven for thinking they are the same thing. Although they have their slight differences, they are all classified as undergarments, and so, unlike leggings, they should not be worn on their own. 

Let’s have a look at all three and see what makes them ever-so-slightly different.

This is a close look at a woman wearing a pair of black pantyhose.

Pantyhose: These undergarments are the thinnest of the three. They are usually made from nylon and are sheer or transparent. Although typically found in skin tones, pantyhose are available in bright colors and with designs, too. They are footed, stretching from the toes to the waist. 

Pantyhose have a darker panty section with more spandex and include a run-stop band to help stop runs from spreading.

This is a look at various colorful tights against a white background.

Tights: Tights are thicker than pantyhose. They are available in a large variety of colors, fabrics, styles, and patterns. 

Tights are footed, stretching from the toes to the waist, and are also considered undergarments. They are stretchy and warm and are used by the general public and performers like dancers and acrobats.

This is a woman putting on anti-embolism stockings.

Stockings: Stockings are similar to tights. They are also footed but do not always stretch all the way to the waist. With this undergarment, you have the option of full or thigh-high. Those that stretch from the toes to the upper thigh are held in place by suspenders and a garter belt.

Like pantyhose and tights, stockings are available in a large variety of colors, styles, and designs. A particular type of stocking, compression stocking, is also used in medicine to assist blood flow and reduce swelling and discomfort.

Leggings vs. Yoga Pants

These are women wearing various designs and styles of yoga pants.

Leggings and Yoga pants are both comfortable pants that can be worn as outer garments. Still, there are some differences you may want to take into account before venturing out wearing either.

Leggings are thin, non-transparent pants made of stretch fabric. They were initially designed as undergarments to help fight the cold and so were not as stylish or good-looking as they are now. Leggings are usually made using nylon, polyester, lycra, or a cotton-spandex material.

While leggings are acceptable to wear as outer garments these days, you might want to hold off using them for gym or Yoga. The problem with leggings is that they generally are not designed for athletic use, and so when stretched, they become transparent. Not a great look while twisting yourself into a pretzel in yoga class.

If you want to use leggings for a workout, be sure to get ones specifically designed for exercise. They have all the comfort of regular leggings but none of the embarrassment.

Yoga pants are similar to leggings but are designed with exercise in mind. They are double-layered in places and usually created to reduce the amount of sweat that stays on your skin. They do not become transparent when stretched, so they are great for plus-sized wearers and for those squats and downward dogs.

Yoga pants were made to be worn as outer garments, and clothing manufacturers have jumped on board to create a vast variety of styles, patterns, and shapes to suit your needs. They are more expensive than leggings, though, so if you are looking for pants to wear around the house, you may want to go with the less expensive option.

The Final Verdict

In the end, it’s your body, your choice, and you can wear whatever you feel comfortable and sassy in. But if you are looking to conform to societal rules about leggings and pantyhose, you may want to keep these few summed up items in mind:

  • If it’s transparent, wear it under other clothes
  • If it’s for exercise, spend a little extra on Yoga pants
  • If there is a darker panty section and line on the thigh area, wear something over it
  • Leggings are for use as clothing, and pantyhose are for use as undergarments 

Whether you are in the market for leggings or pantyhose, have fun with your selection and flaunt your style with confidence!

Resources:

What’s The Diff: Difference Between Tights, Pantyhose, Stockings and Leggings

Freedom Genesis: Difference Between Leggings and Yoga Pants

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